American forces have started pulling out of two bases in Afghanistan, a US official said Tuesday, the day peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban were due to start despite widespread violence and a political crisis, reports Arab News.
The United States is keen to end its longest-ever conflict, and under the terms of a deal signed in Doha last month has said all foreign forces will quit Afghanistan within 14 months - provided the Taliban stick to their security commitments.
Under the accord, the US is initially supposed to cut its troop presence from about 12,000 currently to 8,600 by mid-July, and close five of its roughly 20 bases across the country.
Troops have started leaving one base in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province in the south, and another base in Herat in the east, a US official said on the condition of anonymity.
Even with the drawdown, US forces retain "all the military means and authorities to accomplish our objectives," Col. Sonny Leggett, spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan, said Monday, referring to American counterterrorism operations and support for Afghan forces.
An AFP report adds: The United States has called for a Tuesday vote at the UN Security Council to endorse Washington's deal with the Taliban that was meant to pave the way to peace in Afghanistan, diplomats said.
The US military has begun withdrawing troops as part of the pullout agreed in the February 29 agreement with the Taliban.
The request for a UN vote came after hard negotiations that began one week ago, diplomats said Monday.
China requested in the last draft, already revised three times, that the resolution mention "regional cooperation," the sources told the news agency
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